SAVING OURSELVES: A Closer Look at ‘The Birth of a Nation’

SAVING OURSELVES: A Closer Look at ‘The Birth of a Nation’

Finally, we have a story of rebellion that takes us beyond the slave narrative and shows the beginnings of the revolution of the African American. The Birth of A Nation is the story of Nat Turner played by actor and award-winning director Nate Parker, who is a literate slave preacher-turned-radical that endures the woes of slavery and reinterprets the Bible to be empowering, instead of a source of control.

Starting this weekend, audiences everywhere will have the opportunity to relive the slave tale from a different perspective. It is a story that sheds light on how Christian faith did not subdue slaves, but instead, it became a source of strength. We had the opportunity to view the pre-screening of this perfect retelling of the events leading up to this historic revolt and its haunting, gory imagery that depicts a reality of this undeniable time in history.

While viewing the film, some may spot some other similarities that Turner endures at the age of 31, so be prepared to cheer when he displays his God-given intellect and might. In the meantime, we would like to share some of the film’s most compelling themes with the uneducated, miseducated, and African American History enthusiasts that are prevalent both in the past and present below:

Using Scripture as a Source of Power

Historically, so much has been handed to black people for defeat and turned into a weapon of victory, including our faith.

In the film, the slave master’s wife discovers that Nat can read and takes it as a divine sign to mentor him in Scripture. As an adult, the owner uses Nat’s gift of preaching for profit while also using the sermons to subdue other slaves.

However, after taking a closer look and studying the Bible again, Turner realizes that the Scripture is being misused; so he chooses to use it as a source of power for the revolution.

The message we should all take from this is to read the Word and get to know God for yourself in order to prevent misinterpretation and enhance our sense of empowerment. The tale of false prophets is nothing new, so it is important that we are able to differentiate between a manipulated preacher and a vessel of God? The presentation of the Word will reveal the truth.

The Prayer Warrior, Not the Foot Soldier

What audiences will not see in this film is the majestic Black, female soldier that we have come to love in modern-day society. In fact, the women in this film are meek in comparison, however their strength comes in the form of prayer and support. This image may irritate some and make you wonder why the women are praying instead of picking up weapons and strategizing.

However, it is important to remember that the woman’s role during the days of American slavery was to sit back, observe and continue to be a constant support for the men in their lives.

As time went on, the revolutions to follow gave birth to many strong women who bore even stronger children and the victory continues amidst our battle on both the physical and spiritual battlefield.

 “They’re killing people everywhere for no other reason at all but being black.”

This line in the film will make the audience shutter at the reality of the history and our present circumstances in the fight to show that Black lives do, in fact, matter. Although it is not meant to address the current movement, it is clear that the director, Parker, wanted to make the correlation.

The film shows what punishment looks like for the concept of freedom, and this same concept is something that Blacks pay for repeatedly despite their individual success and our community’s history of overcoming obstacles.

As a community, African Americans have greatly contributed to the evolution of the American landscape and some would argue that punishment is given as envious punishment. This same theme is carried throughout the film.

So Why See Yet Another Slave Film?

With films like Amistad, 12 Years A Slave and television series like “The Roots,” many of these stories are about surviving slavery and not the brutal fight to be free. Although the story is a carefully paced depiction of Nat Turner’s life, it pieces together the ancestral grit, new philosophy, and spiritual awakening that makes the oppressed ask, “When is enough is enough?”

We are living in a time where we are most certainly free and, somehow, still at war in an effort to show our worth. While it is not implied that we revolt in the form of violence against injustice, it is a reminder to stand up for our God-given right to be free and treated justly.

 

 

 

Kenyan churches demand HIV test for couples wanting to marry

Kenyan churches demand HIV test for couples wanting to marry

by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Some Kenyan churches are demanding premarital HIV testing before weddings, a trend activists warn is infringing on the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.

For some, it’s a quiet matter, with the couples privately told to check with a doctor or a clinic, but for others an HIV test is a mandatory requirement before the couples are joined in marriage.

Recently, some Pentecostal and evangelical groups have demanded strict adherence to the requirement, while Roman Catholic and most mainline Protestant churches tend to be less strict.

“The practice has become entrenched in many churches,” said Jane Ng’ang’a, coordinator of the Kenyan chapter of an international network of religious leaders living with HIV/AIDS. “While it is agreeable to advise a couple to take the test, our concern is the demand for a disclosure of the status is against the law. The challenge is that most church leaders do not know the law.”

During the past decade, new HIV infections in the largely Christian country have risen faster than in any other in sub-Saharan country, according to a study by the Global Burden of Disease collaborative.

Last year, over 1.8 million Kenyans were living with the HIV virus, which, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS. Nearly 39 percent of those were using life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs, a rate below the regional average rate of 43 percent.

Ten years ago, the country passed a law banning HIV tests as a precondition for marriage. The law warns against breaching confidentiality and disclosing individual statuses without consent.

But Ng’ang’a said the network was recently alarmed after it found out that some churches were breaching confidentiality after receiving the tests.

“Some tests were kept in open files that could easily be scrutinized by anyone,” she said. “We see this as a new form of stigma and discrimination for those with HIV and AIDS.”

The clergy who demand the HIV tests say they are driven by a desire to protect their members from HIV and AIDS. They say the church needs to help nurture healthy families and prevent divorce, disease and death.

“A HIV test is mandatory for any couple planning to wed in our church,” said the Rev. Solomon Mwalili of the Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya. “I think it’s for general good — for the two involved and the family they plan to raise.”

Pentecostal pastor James Kyalo of the Machakos region, 40 miles from the capital Nairobi, said his church demands two HIV tests: the first when the couple seeks to start the wedding process; then six months later.

He said the church members have never protested or complained about the requirement.

Some pastors say couples should know the test results if they plan to rear children. Once they know they are infected, for example, they can seek advice from doctors on how to care for themselves and how to live in the community.

The Rev. Patrick Lihanda, superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, said that when one of the couples is HIV-positive, they do not ask the couple to split, but instead advise them how to live together.

“HIV is a reality and we cannot bury our heads in the sand,” said Lihanda. “When we find out that one of couple is infected, we counsel them and marry them. I think that’s the best thing to do, since they are in love.”

The Rev. Wellington Mutiso, an official with the Baptist Convention of Kenya, said many Baptist churches do not demand the test, since most couples have already engaged in premarital sex before the church wedding.

Like Baptists, mainline churches find the demand for the test discriminatory and an obstacle in the fight against the epidemic.

“A certificate or a test is not important for us, since anyone can contract HIV,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of the Mombasa Diocese. “The virus does not also mean one cannot live a full life. Even in cases of HIV, the couple can still live together.”

(Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent based in Nairobi)

Ask Dr. Minnie: Is Jesus My Husband?

Ask Dr. Minnie: Is Jesus My Husband?

Licensed Counselor and Life Coach Dr. Minnie Claiborn is back with her latest, monthly column. Feel free to submit any questions on a topic of your choice to [email protected], and your question may be answered in a future column!

Hello Dr. Minnie,

My name is Lynn. I am in my mid- thirties. I really want to get married and have children. My friend said that I should be content because Jesus is my husband. Dr. Minnie, am I missing something? Is Jesus really my husband?

Hi Lynne,

Many well-meaning people have said that to other people. It sometimes causes confusion and some people feel guilty because they don’t want to be unfaithful to Jesus. Let me just start out by saying,  “No, Jesus is not your husband.” If you are born again, Jesus is your Lord and Savior.

Scripture refers to the “Church”, the collective Body of Christ, as the “Bride of Christ.” However, this is not for an individual adaptation. God instituted marriage as an earthly covenant between man and woman. Ephesians 5:25-33  presents a distinction between that which is natural and that which is spiritual.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is our provider, protector, and healer. He loves us, comforts us, and will never leave nor forsake us. Certainly, these are traits that we desire in a mate, and only Jesus can meet those deep longings of our souls—but not in the romantic sense. He does this for both men and women who seek him for true love and comfort.

Dr. Minnie

 

 

Terence Crutcher, Kaepernick, and Social Injustice: Where Do We Go From Here?

Terence Crutcher, Kaepernick, and Social Injustice: Where Do We Go From Here?

When will this nightmare end? On Monday, our nation added another hashtag to our timelines and newsfeeds after learning of yet another unarmed Black man being gunned down by police.

But, Terence Crutcher was more than just another hashtag. He was active in the church choir, a father of four, a son, and a twin. In fact, he and his twin sister celebrated their 40th birthday a month ago, but you probably won’t hear about much of this on the news. Instead, for the next several weeks, our lives will be inundated with media coverage of Terence’s final moments at every turn.

History shows that we are only left with two options here. We can either watch the video footage that has already been shared thousands of times on social media or continue scrolling down our feeds, only to find an abundance of statuses and memes addressing the incident.

Although this story is still developing and we do not have all of the details on exactly what happened this week, I think we can all agree that this scenario is becoming all too common.

Recent studies show that although Black Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, we are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers. But instead, we have turned our attention to burning football jerseys and waiting to see who will be the next athlete to join Colin Kaepernick in his quest to bring awareness to the social injustice that is plaguing our nation.

Acts 17:26 says, “ From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.” Yes, we are all created equally in God’s eyes, but the above statistics paint a different picture.

Kaepernick addresses his supporters in a recent Instagram post and ends his caption by saying, “I believe in the people, and WE can be the change!” We may agree with his statement, but how many of us are really willing to do something to see that this change is manifested?

Instead, many of us seem to be losing sight of what really matters.

Yes, Kaepernick made the decision to exercise his freedom and leverage his platform by kneeling during the national anthem, and no, some of us may not agree with it. However, I think we can all agree that something must be done to show that enough is enough.

But, the lingering question is, “What?”

When will we, as a nation, get to the point where we say, “Something has to be done,” and work to find a solution that truly does provide liberty and justice for all, regardless of their race?

When will our voices be heard? And, what can we as individuals do in order to help bring justice to Terence Crutcher and so many others whose lives have been reduced to yet another hashtag?

Colin Kaepernick and many others have found peaceful ways to express their frustration with the recent injustices that plague our nation. And, although Kaepernick is one of the more famous figures who have decided to use his platform for social justice, hundreds, and even thousands, of people of all races are working tirelessly to bring awareness to this ever-growing, national problem.

So, instead of only opting to be vocal on social media about the death of Terence Crutcher and so many others, what do you plan to do to ensure that your voice is heard?

Share your thoughts below. We’d love to hear from you!